We at the Forum are delighted to draw your attention to the magazine Jacobin, which has just published an interview with Prof. James Mark about the new book 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe, co-authored with Exeter colleagues Bogdan Iacob, Tobias Rupprecht, and Ljubica Spaskovska. Here is the introduction:
On the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, commemorations of the “end of communism” proved rather muted. The Washington Post lamented the dismantling of the democratic institutions so hard-won in 1989, accusing Hungary’s far-right premier Viktor Orbán of antics that would make his communist predecessors “blush.” Writing in the Guardian, liberal historian Timothy Garton-Ash also felt that the “dictators [are] coming back,” but insisted the “spirit of 1989” could resist the spread of so-called “illiberal democracy.”
Both readings conform to a commonplace understanding of what happened in central-eastern Europe after 1989 — a wave of democratic mobilization, cruelly beaten down by new Moscow-aligned autocrats who do not want to embrace “Western values.” This perception has been fueled by the public declarations of many leaders in the “Visegrád” countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) who have insisted on the preservation of their Christian and national culture as against “globalism” and multiculturalism. Continue reading “Jacobin interview with Prof. James Mark: When Eastern Europe Left the World Behind”→
Eastern Europe is clearly part of a global populist wave, and is now part of the western right-wing populist imaginary as the bedrock for ‘pure’ European values. Only by looking at ‘1989’ from a new angle can we see how populist governments’ rejection of a ‘decadent’ and ‘imperialist’ West merely continues a communist stance, despite their strident anti-communist rhetoric.
The spread of populist governments in eastern Europe over the last decade, and their nationalist challenging of core tenets of western liberalism, has given currency to talk about a ‘new east-west divide’. A notion has taken hold that draws on a longer history of western views of eastern backwardness: a specifically eastern illiberal ‘infection’ is allegedly threatening the stability of the entire European project. In this vein, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon ‘the EU and the people of Europe to resist the backsliding we are seeing in the east’.1 Yet the parallel ascent of populist parties in much of the West, and a wave of anti-populist mass protests in the east, suggest the divide is not defined by geography alone.
As we argue in 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe, the current wave of east European populism, while rooted in local nationalist traditions, is best understood by also considering its global ideological bedfellows. Nativists in eastern Europe, and those who embrace similar forms of ethnonationalist cultural traditionalism elsewhere, have mutually reinforced each other. Radical right-wing figures in western Europe have developed strong bonds with eastern European populists in a common push to ‘re-found’ Europe on an explicitly anti-liberal basis. Beyond Europe, leaders with an authoritarian bent, from the right-wing of the Republican Party in the United States, to Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, and Xi Jinping in China, have contributed to eastern European populists’ re-positioning against the West. Through these relationships, leading figures of such nationalist parties as PiS in Poland and Fidesz in Hungary, as well as their intellectual supporters, re-imagined their place in a broader world beyond the liberal rule of law and what they consider the neo-colonial interference of the EU in their countries’ domestic affairs. Together, they clamour for the defence of their societies’ ‘Europeanness’, allegedly threatened by Western multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and ‘political correctness’. Continue reading “The struggle over 1989: The rise and contestation of eastern European populism”→
Augusto Pinochet was an avid global traveller throughout the 1990s. A potent symbol of Cold War anti-Soviet authoritarianism and market radicalism, the former military ruler of Chile usually made a great stir during his trips across Latin America, East Asia, Southern Africa, continental Europe, and to the United Kingdom. In a recent article in Global Society, I assess the public reactions, political debates, and legal consequences that Pinochet’s appearances caused. Scholars of Pinochet’s international perception have for the most part focussed on his criminal reputation among human rights activists and the victims of military rule in Chile. Yet, many pro-market reformers and anti-Communists in countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism did not see Pinochet as a criminal dictator of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher also had a soft spot for him. For them, his economically successful ‘Chilean model’ had become a source of legitimacy for an authoritarian path of modernisation. Continue reading “How Pinochet turned Chile into a globally admired model of authoritarian capitalism”→
Russia has re-emerged as an imperial power during Vladimir Putin’s third term as president. In the Syrian civil war, the Russian military intervention turned the tides in favour of Bashar al-Assad. The Kremlin has incited separatism and war in Ukraine, supports Serbian nationalists and secessional Abkhazians, has refreshed traditional friendships with Bulgaria and Macedonia, and it has struck a deal with the Cypriote government that allows the Russian navy to use the island’s ports. In the Southern European debt crisis, Russia offered substantial financial aid to Greece. What links all these countries is that they all are traditionally home to large groups of Orthodox believers. Is this a coincidence?
In a recent article in Comparative Studies in Society and History, I argue that religious traditions and religion-based visions of world order often impinge on the making of foreign policy and on the nature of International Relations. I make that case using the history of the mutual cross-relationship of church and state in modern Russia and Ethiopia. From the late nineteenth century, both multi-ethnic empires with traditionally orthodox Christian ruling elites, developed a special relationship that outlived changing geopolitical and ideological constellations. Russians were fascinated with what they saw as exotic brothers in the faith; Ethiopians took advantage of Russian assistance and were inspired by various features of modern Russian statecraft. Religio-ethnic identities and institutionalised religion have grounded tenacious visions of global political order and cross-border identities. Orthodoxy was the spiritual basis of an early anti-Western type of globalisation, and was subsequently co-opted by states with radically secular ideologies as an effective means of mass mobilization and control. Continue reading “Orthodox Internationalism: Why religion matters in global history and International Relations”→
This conference aims to provide a truly global account of the rise and entrenchment of the modern neoliberal order. Contributors will consider how neoliberal ideas travelled (or did not travel) across regions and polities; and analyse how these ideas were translated between groups and regions as embodied behaviours and business practices as well as through the global media and international organisations. As the fate of neoliberalism appears in question across many regions, it is an opportune moment to make sense of its ascendancy on a global scale.
Convenors: Professor James Mark, University of Exeter Professor Richard Toye, University of Exeter Dr Ljubica Spaskovska, University of Exeter Dr Tobias Rupprecht, University of Exeter
Speakers include: Professor Jennifer Bair, University of Virginia
Professor Susan Bayly, University of Cambridge
Professor Johanna Bockman, George Mason University
Professor Stephanie Decker, Aston Business School
Mr Julian Gewirtz, University of Oxford
Professor Vanessa Ogle, UC Berkeley
Professor Daisuke Ikemoto, Meijigakuin University
Professor Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam
Dr Alexander Kentikelenis, University of Oxford
Professor Pun Ngai, Hong Kong University
Professor Pal Nyiri, University of Amsterdam
Professor David Priestland, University of Oxford
Professor Bernhard Rieger, University of Leiden
Professor Quinn Slobodian, Wellesley College and Harvard University
Dr Jorg Wiegratz, University of Leeds
Registration: A registration fee is payable at the time of booking. For further information and details of how to book please click on ‘Book event’.
Standard Admission: £95 for both days; £50 for one day
Early Bird booking (before 31 January 2018): £75 for both days; £40 for one day
Concessions: £36 for both days; £20 for one day
Thu 7 Jun 2018 09:00 to Fri 8 Jun 2018 17:00
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH
‘This is a great conservative system,’ reported the visitor following his trip to Moscow, ‘there is no lack of order, no anarchy, no lack of discipline! Everyone respects the authorities!’ While the liberal leaders of the materialist and soulless West allegedly no longer took up a stance against decadent art, degenerate music, and immoral sexual libertarianism, the leaders in the Kremlin, he claimed, heroically defended traditional family values and a ‘healthy patriotism’.
The tone of this argument will sound rather familiar to a contemporary observer of Russia’s reactionary domestic policies and its regression to Cold War style foreign intervention. A swashbuckling Vladimir Putin has attracted the tacit, and sometimes open, admiration from many Europeans who no longer feel represented by what they see as the liberal mainstream in politics and media. Continue reading “Soviet Internationalism in Latin America”→